I know that most people don't know this little tidbit, as I always get such a response when I mention it during an Internet Seminar or with a client.
The next time your computer stops responding, and they all do at one time or another, you will need to turn the computer off completely. In the old days, when PCs had big, red, mechanical switches, this was easy. Throw the big red switch and all power was removed from the computer. Flip is again and the computer started up.
These days though, computers (and many other pieces of technology) have electronic switchs. You may not know it, but your computer is always "on" in some small way. If you open up the case, you may even see LEDs glowing, even though the computer is supposedly "off".
So, how do you make your computer turn off completely, so you can restart it afresh? (In the old days we called this a "cold boot.", by the way). Well, you can do what many of my clients end up doing and pull the power cord out of the back the computer. Now, as you might imagine, this probably isn't a really good idea. Pulling the cord can cause power spikes and surges and do nasty things to your computer. Still, you do need to turn it off, though.
The best way to power off your computer completely it to hold in the power button for 10-20 seconds until the entire computer shuts down. You can usually tell when it has done this, as the monitor will go blank and you will no longer hear the humming of the computer's fan or hard disks.
While this still isn't something you want to do every day, it can get you out of a sticky spot and back on the road to troubleshooting what occured. Even better, this trick works with nearly any piece of technology.
* Cell phone confused? try holding down the power button to shut it off.
* iPod crashed? Hold down particular keys to reset it. - from Apple.com
* Digital camera hung up? Hold down the power button.
Note: Pressing your power button once, tapping it, will often cause the computer to go into Standby or Sleep. It still isn't off completely. Remember, you need to hold the power button in for 10-20 secs and listen for the "click" that tells you it has turned off.
Of course, if your computer is hanging or crashing on a regular basis, you need someone to take a look at it or have it repaired. Today's computer shouldn't be crashing more than once a week, and even then I would probably be trying to discover what was wrong.
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